2 Mar 2004

Resumption of French military aid to Fiji attributed to French president

2:49 pm on 2 March 2004

The resumption of French military aid to Fiji is being attributed to French president, Jacques Chirac's, desire to maintain a naval presence worldwide.

France and Fiji's armed forces are this week conducting joint exercises after signing a memorandum of understanding.

Military aid had been suspended following the 2000 coup in Fiji.

But, Yves Louis Sage, an associate professor in International Law at the University of French Polynesia, says the renewed co-operation is part of France's tradition of helping people in the neighbourhood.

"He was keen to keep the French presence, all over the world, in its maritime sovereignty and I think it's part of the same process - a way to expand the French presence in the South Pacific."

Mr Sage says expanded ties can also be linked to French Polynesian president, Gaston Flosse, who is keen to establish his mark in the region and is receiving strong support from France to do so.